Slaughter Of The Innocents

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2016122820161229 (R4)

Tim Montgomerie reflects on the largely forgotten Collect for Holy Innocents day.

Journalist Tim Montgomerie reflects on the largely forgotten Collect for Holy Innocents day, celebrated on the 28th of December. This religious holiday is for recalling the murder of innocent lives, and remembering the violence and injustice of our world. Yet, despite its contemporary relevance, it has fallen into obscurity.

Tim traces this melancholy commemoration back to one of the most harrowing stories from the Bible - Herod's massacre of all infant boys in Bethlehem. He visits its most famous representation in art, Bruegel the Elder's Massacre Of The Innocents, which is kept in Her Majesty's collection at Windsor Castle. Through this painting, and its multiple retouches by its various owners to obscure away painful memories and injustices, Tim draws parallels between the fading away of this once important commemoration and the airbrushing of Elder's work to remove his messages of suffering at the hands of Spanish armies and German mercenaries of the time.

Alongside interviewees such as Cardinal Vincent Nichols and theologian Martin Palmer, Tim concludes by making an impassioned case for a greater recognition of this once important day in the Christian calendar.

Produced by Sean Glynn.

A Kati Whitaker production for BBC Radio 4.